Yaki udon, with its thick and chewy noodles, super tasty sauce, crunchy vegetables and seared pork slices is my idea of pure comfort food. It’s super easy to put together and I can’t imagine a better pan-fried meal.
I LOVE yaki udon. It reminds me of long lazy nights, huge piles of steaming noodles on a flat grill, and the sounds of happy people chatting and enjoying festival food in Japan.
What is yaki udon?
Yaki udon, literally translated, is fried udon. The thick, chewy udon noodles are fried with pork, cabbage, onions, and carrots, in a mildly sweet and super flavorful soy-mirin based sauce. It is usually topped with seaweed and bonito flakes that dance gently in the heat of the noodles.
It’s almost the same as yakisoba, but with udon. Yaki udon is super popular at Japanese festivals, izakaya (Japanese pubs), and pretty much anytime.
Yakiudon versus Yakisoba
If you asked me to choose between yakiudon and yakisoba, I would choose yakiudon every time, hands down! Udon noodles are a joy to eat – thick and chewy and SO satisfying. Mike and I love udon so much that we went on an udon pilgrimage to the birthplace of udon, Kagawa, Japan. They don’t have yakiudon there, but they have the best udon in Japan. Udon is truly the best noodle to make in a pan. The noodles soak up so much flavor and hold up without getting soggy. With yakisoba you sometimes get sad broken noodles. You will never have that problem with udon. Udon noodles are hearty, thick, and a joy to eat!
How to prepare yaki udon
You are only 5 minutes away from pure noodle satisfaction.
- Wet. The easiest way to thaw frozen udon noodles is to quickly soak them in warm water. Use your hands or a pair of chopsticks to soften them, then drain.
- Fry the pork. Add a drizzle of oil to a skillet and cook the pork slices, turning as needed, until browned and cooked through.
- Cook the vegetables. Saute the vegetables until they are slightly soft.
- Add the noodles. Fry the drained noodles, along with the soy sauce, mirin and dashi, stirring until the noodles are glossy and coated in the sauce.
- Enjoy! Top with some bonito and nori flakes and enjoy!
Note the ingredients
- Udon noodles – my absolute favorite udon are the frozen ones! They are called sanuki udon and are essentially fresh udon that are cooked and then frozen. Read more about frozen udon below.
- dashi powder – dashi is a super tasty, clear and umami-rich broth made from seaweed and dried fish. You can make it from scratch or, there are great packets of dashi and instant dashi powder/granules, kind of like there’s chicken broth powder or bouillon. We will also talk about this below.
- Viewfinder – Mirin is Japanese sweet rice wine and a key ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Compared to sake, it has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content which occurs naturally from fermentation. It is used as a flavoring and glazing agent. They sell mirin in the Asian aisle, Asian grocery stores, and on line. If you don’t have mirin, you can add the same amount of sugar.
- Katsuobushi – this is an optional ingredient but will make your yaki udon super umami forward and authentic! Katsuobushi are dried and finely chopped bonito flakes that are placed on top of yakisoba, yaki udon and takoyaki. It’s those pale little crackles that seem to dance when the food is hot. You can find katsuobushi in Asian grocery stores and on line.
Frozen Udon is the best Udon
Frozen udon is the best: it’s practically instant and takes on all the flavors of what you’re cooking it with. We always have a pack (or five) of frozen udon bricks in the freezer. Sure, you could use those instant udon packets, which come wrapped in shrink wrap, but if you want udon on another level, go to your local Asian grocery store, check out the freezer and do yourself a favor and buy the udon. frozen .
Frozen udon is sold in bricks, usually with 5 bricks in a package. They are very simple to prepare: just defrost them and go. Best of all, most of the frozen udon sold in North America is actually imported from Japan. We often see brands sold here that are the same ones we buy at the supermarket in Tokyo. They taste infinitely better than shelf-stable cryovac udon. Basically, look for the words Sanuki Udon somewhere on the packaging.
Dashi powder is the quickest way to add dashi flavor to any dish. Essentially, it is a flavor enhancer. You can buy dashi powder at the Asian grocery store or on line. Adds a lot of flavor and umami. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute chicken broth powder, but if you do, your udon may taste more salty than if you use dashi.
How to customize yaki udon
Yaki udon is a super customizable noodle dish. Make it yours!
- Beef udon yaki: under 1/2 pound thinly sliced beef
- Chicken udon yaki: Sliced chicken less than 1/2 lb
- Shrimp udon yaki: shelled, peeled shrimp under 1/2 lb
- Vegetable yaki udon: Leave the pork out and add 1 cup more vegetables, such as: mushrooms, peppers, broccoli
- Simple yaki udon: leave out the pork and vegetables
More udon recipes
If you’re looking for more udon inspiration, try these recipes:
- Whole Bagel Pesto Stir Fry Yaki Udon
- Weeknight Thai Curry Stir Fry Udon Noodles
- The ultimate 10 minute spicy beef pan fried udon on the week
- Mentaiko Kimchi Udon spicy, salty and completely addictive
- Chewier, Better, Faster, Stronger: 4 Ingredient Cacio e Pepe Udon
- Chicken udon recipe
- Turkey Curry Udon Recipe
- Sunday Brunch: Bacon and Egg Yakiudon
We also went to Kagawa
And if you want, check out our journey to the birthplace of udon.
- 1 brick frozen udon about 250g/8.8oz
- 1 table spoon I am willow Favorite Japanese
- 1 teaspoon instant dashi
- 1 teaspoon viewfinder or sugar
- 1 table spoon neutral oil for example. grape seeds
- 1 pork chop about 1/2 lb
- 1/4 medium onion sliced
- 1 cup cabbage chopped or shredded
- 1/2 carrot julienne or shredded
- 1/2 cup katsuobushi shaved dried bonito flakes, optional
Dip the frozen udon noodles in a bowl of warm water, loosening them to ensure the strands of dough are separated. Drain and set aside. Mix the soy sauce, dashi powder, and mirin (or sugar) with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Shelve.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced pork and cook until the pork is seared and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the onion and saute, stirring, until soft, but not browned. Stir in the cabbage and carrot, cooking until soft but still a little crispy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the drained udon noodles and bowl of sauce. Stir everything together, over medium-high heat, until the sauce reduces and coats the noodles, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Finish with sliced nori and bonito flakes, if using.
Quantity per serving
Calories from fat 149